Who Else Should Launch an Android App Store?


Google’s Android may have overtaken Apple’s iOS as the most coveted mobile platform in the U.S., but the Android Market is still a rotten place to shop. The overstocked shelves teem with all sorts of crap among the really valuable stuff, and searching for a specific app in the enormous library is often difficult unless you know the exact name of what you’re looking for.

So it’s no surprise that a small army of players are vying to compete with Android Market by distributing apps directly to consumers. Amazon is the highest profile of these, of course — the online retailer is hoping to differentiate itself by offering only the best Android apps, just as Barnes & Noble is doing on its Nook Color device. But smaller competitors are emerging too: startup BloomWorlds hopes to gain traction as a distributor of family-friendly Android titles, while Archos is focusing on apps for higher-end Android devices with larger screens. All those players are competing with cross-platform mega-stores like GetJar and Mobango as well as carrier stores like those offered by Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA.

More app stores means a more fragmented market, of course, and some app store operators are already having trouble attracting the attention of developers who have plenty of distribution channels to choose from. But here are a few candidates who could benefit from joining the game:

  • Facebook. Facebook’s popularity among mobile users is well documented, but building an app distribution business would allow it to own a much larger piece of the user experience — as well as creating a new revenue stream.
  • Electronic Arts. EA’s massive mobile game portfolio teems with high-profile franchises like The Sims, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Tetris, not to mention classics like Monopoly and Scrabble. But even those notable titles can get lost in Android Market or other app stores with a seemingly infinite number of titles on the shelves.
  • Best Buy. The nationwide chain sells phones from all four tier-one carriers in the U.S., and it is honing its focus on mobile as it backs away from its big-box strategy. And like Amazon, it could market the store by giving away credits to consumers who buy qualifying phones.

For more thoughts on how these companies and others could benefit from launching an Android app store, please see my weekly column at GigaOM Pro (subscription required.)

Image source: Flickr user Symlinked.


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